NEWCASTLE UNITED 0 vs ARSENAL 1
ARSENAL manager Arsene Wenger believes a 16th successive Champions League qualification will enable him to attract a higher calibre of player when he delves into the club’s swelling cash reserves this summer.
Centre-back Laurent Koscielny’s second-half volley was enough to earn the Gunners a nervy win at Newcastle and fend off Tottenham’s challenge for a top-four place for another season.
It also ensured Arsenal a windfall of more than £30m – if they get through a qualifying round – at a time when Wenger is expected to loosen the purse-strings and spend some of the estimated £70m at his disposal.
“It’s easier to bring in players when you have a chance to be in the Champions League,” he said. “Let’s not forget we are not in yet – we have to qualify – but at least we have the chance.”
Wenger pinpointed the 2-0 win at Bayern Munich in March as the catalyst for his team’s end-of-season charge, which saw them over haul Tottenham’s seven-point advantage.
“Since 1 February, we have taken more points than anybody else in the league,” he said. “I don’t believe that’s just down to coincidence, just to the fact that the group has grown. We lacked belief for a long period because we couldn’t win a big game. The Bayern game changed our season.”
Koscielny struck in the 52nd minute when Theo Walcott’s right-wing free-kick was nodded goalwards by Lukas Podolski and the France defender swivelled to volley past Steve Harper from close range.